Ian Kinsler's in a groove.
He's hitting .325 with three doubles, a triple and three home runs in the last 10 games, including a solo shot that accounted for all the scoring in Tuesday's 1-0 win. The homer came during an at bat that started 3-0 and Kinsler explained his approach to the at bat after the game.
"I’m always looking to drive the ball every single at-bat I have,” Kinsler said. “Just because it’s 0-0, I’m not trying to walk. I’m trying to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."
That's mostly cliches, except for the part of not trying to walk. It's a strange posture for Kinsler to take since his hot streak has been fueled in large part by his increased willingness to take a free pass to first base.
Kinsler has walked seven times in that span and 12 times this month, his highest total for a month since April and only the second time this season that he's walked in more than 10 percent of his plate appearances. That's much closer to his career numbers as does the overall offensive output of those two months, which is a good sign that pitchers have to give him those good pitches to hit because they don't want to put him on base.
Not surprisingly, those have been the two best months of Kinsler's season. They've been the best of the Rangers' season as well.
It's not the first time this season that selectivity has paid off for the Rangers. Josh Hamilton's nosedive earlier this season featured a lot of flailing at bad pitches and he pulled out of it when he started to exhibit a bit more patience during his at bats. He never credited the relationship between the two, but it certainly seemed like the opposing pitchers noticed it. It made an impact in the standings as well.
One thing can be a coincidence, but two things suggest a pattern. It's one that the Rangers might want to take a more assertive organizational approach to fixing, much in the way they've overhauled their approach to developing young pitchers in recent years.
This isn't something to go overborard about -- the Rangers lead the American League in on-base percentage -- but it wouldn't hurt if Rangers hitters were a little happier about the prospect of taking a walk when it means advantageous situatons for the guys coming up behind them. After all, there's plenty of evidence of the way it leads to more victories.
That's a long-term approach and the only thing that's important in the short term is keeping Kinsler on base as much as possible. That should be a bigger priority than swinging hard right until the point that an apporpriate pitch to swing at comes along.